Emilie Durkheim's magnum opus on Suicide delves into the cause of suicide in an admirably macro yet micro way which sheds spectacular illumination on this complex phenomenon.
Penned by one of the founders of modern sociology, this classic puts forth the view that suicide stems from a lack of integration of an individual into society. Suicide provides readers with an understanding of the impetus for suicide and its psychological impact on the victim, family, and society.
Durkheim reasoned that while suicide occurs in all societies, the suicide rate for various groups are often both different than other groups within the same society and stable over time. These differences and stability in group rates indicated that there was something other than psychology involved in the decision to commit suicide. Why do rates differ between age groups within the same society? It is simply impossible, Durkheim insisted, to explain or interpret the characteristics and behaviors of human groups on a psychological or biological basis. Much of who and what we are, of how we behave and what we believe, is due to social forces.
As per Durkheim Suicide can be categorised into its three sub types namely :
This resulted from very less integration of individuals and the society they livedin. Those individuals who were not sufficiently bound to social groups (and therefore well-defined values, traditions, norms, and goals) were left with little social support or guidance, and thus tended to commit suicide on an increased basis.
An example Durkheim discovered was that of unmarried people, particularly males, who, with less to bind and connect them to stable social norms and goals, committed suicide at higher rates than married people.
This was a result of too much integration between the society and individuals. It occurred at the opposite end of the integration scale as egoistic suicide. Self sacrifice was the defining trait, where individuals were so integrated into social groups that they lost sight of their individuality and became willing to sacrifice themselves to the group's interests, even if that sacrifice was their own life. The most common cases of altruistic suicide occurred among members of the military.
This was a result of a complete breakdown of a system/regulated environment rather like the literal meaning of the word Anomie that is lack of regulation coupled with a breakdown of norms.Durkheim defined the term anomie as a condition where social and/or moral norms are confused, unclear, or simply not present. Durkheim felt that this lack of norms--or pre-accepted limits on behavior in a society--led to deviant suicidal behavior.